MRI T2* mapping correlates with biochemistry and histology in intervertebral disc degeneration in a large animal model

S.E.L. Detiger, R.M. Holewijn, R.J.W. Hoogendoorn, B.J. van Royen, M.N. Helder, F.H. Berger, J.P.A. Kuijer, T.H. Smit

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To evaluate intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration and treatments, an objective diagnostic tool is needed. Recently, T2* relaxation time mapping was proposed as a technique to assess early IVD degeneration, yet the correlation with biochemical content and histological features has not been investigated previously. Our objective was to validate T2* mapping for disc degeneration by correlating this technique with accepted parameters of IVD degeneration. Mildly and severely degenerated lumbar discs were obtained from an in vivo large animal study; two healthy goat spines were acquired as control. In total, 48 IVDs were analysed using T2-weighted MRI, T2* relaxation time mapping, biochemical assays, macroscopic and histological scoring. Correlations between variables were expressed with Spearman's rho (ρ) coefficients. A complete range of degenerative grades were obtained (mean histological grade 2.2, range 0-6). A linear positive correlation was observed between T2* relaxation time and glycosaminoglycan content (ρ = 0.64, p <0.001). T2* relaxation time decreased linearly with increasing degeneration as assessed with Pfirrmann scoring system (ρ = -0.67, p <0.001), macroscopic (ρ = -0.33, p <0.05) and histological (ρ = -0.45, p <0.05) grading. T2* mapping is an MRI technique for IVD evaluation which allows for measurements on a continuous scale thus minimising observer bias compared to grading systems. Although limited by a small sample size, this study showed a relatively good and linear correlation between T2* relaxation time and accepted parameters of disc degeneration. This suggests that T2* mapping is a promising tool to assess disc degeneration in clinical practice
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1935-1943
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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